valve surgery fixes or replaces a damaged heart valve. There are four valves in
your heart. They are the mitral, aortic, tricuspid, and pulmonic valves. These
valves open and close to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through
your heart. When you have a problem with a heart valve, blood does not flow
through the heart the right way.
During the surgery, the doctor
may fix your heart valve or replace it with an artificial valve. The artificial
valve may be made of plastic, metal, or animal tissue. Or your heart valve may
be replaced with a donor heart valve that comes from a person who has died.
Whether your heart valve is repaired or replaced depends on the type of heart
valve problem you have.
The most common way
to do heart valve surgery is through a large cut, called an incision, in the
chest. This is called open-chest surgery. During open-chest surgery a
heart-lung bypass machine is used to add oxygen to the blood and move the blood
through the body. This machine will allow the doctor to stop your heartbeat
while he or she works on your heart.
In some cases, other types of
heart valve surgery may be an option. These include surgery that is done
without stopping the heart and surgery that is done through smaller incisions
in the chest.
will stay in the hospital for 4 to 7 days after surgery. You will probably be
able to do many of your usual activities after 4 to 6 weeks. For at least 6 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, a vacuum cleaner, or a child.
You will probably need to take 4 to 12 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
You will probably feel better
than you did before you had the surgery. For example, you may no longer have
shortness of breath and fatigue. But you may continue to have some heart
After surgery, you may need to take anticoagulants to
prevent blood clots. Be sure to tell all your doctors and your dentist that you
have had heart valve surgery. This is important, because you may need to take
antibiotics before certain procedures to prevent infection.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be
sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having
problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of
the medicines you take.
Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed
Enter M087 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Heart Valve Surgery."
Current as of:
January 27, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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